Early Canberra

Unemployment in the Territory

The Great Depression which 'began' in Australia in August 1929 following the Wall Street Crash in the USA began in the Territory in 1927 following the completion of the major works necessary to move the Federal Parliament to Canberra.

Massive sackings began which resulted in many leaving the territory. The majority who lost their jobs were men who worked in the construction industries that included not only the labourers and tradesmen, but also professional people such as architects and surveyors.  AJ Ryan who founded the ACT's first radio station, 2CA, was one who lost his job at this time.

An excellent outline and overview of the early years of Canberra including this period is found in a book, Canberra in Crisis - A History of Land Tenure and Leasehold Administration by Frank Brennan 1971 SBN No 909906 03 3.  His work as well as giving information about the land and the leasehold system gives excellent information about the times and the struggles back and forth that resulted in Canberra's system of leasehold instead of freehold 'ownership' of the land.  Many of the articles that follow refer to the 'fight' between those for and those against the leasehold system that was finally introduced in the territory.

This book also gives an overview of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee (FCAC -1921-1924), Federal Capital Commission (FCC 1925-1930) and the Advisory Council (1930 - post WW2 years) and their impacts on the history of Canberra and its development.

In particular the FCC and Advisory Council are referred to in many of the documents and articles from The Canberra Times (commenced in 1926 - Shakespeare who became a member of the Advisory Council was also the owner of this paper). 

The majority of those who stayed following the opening of Parliament who lost their jobs were the construction workers who lived in the temporary settlements and camps.  The majority were labourers and many of the documents that one reads about these times refer for the need to train the young - provide apprenticeships etc to ensure that skilled people necessary for construction etc would be available in the future.  I believe that this shortage of skilled tradesmen may be laid at the door of the World War (1914-1918) that put many men in uniforms to fight instead of being trained for future peace time occupations.

In 1930 in Canberra, a group of public servants and others (white collar workers) got together to form the Unemployment Relief Committee and managed to get the Government to match the money they raised pound for pound.  They took a cut in their pay and I think it was 3d from each pound earnt that went to the fund.  Money was also raised from activies such as dances and so on.

The money raised allowed this committee to pay a wage to the unemployed for periods of work that ranged from one week in three or four or .. .for married men and one week in four or five or for single men.   Work found by the Government was labour intensive and included works such as road making and planting of the pine forests.

Following are articles about these times:

Married Men to Come First

The Canberra Times, Saturday 14 June 1930 page 5

EMPLOYMENT FUND

TO YIELD 80 POUNDS A WEEK

MARRIED MEN TO COME FIRST

INITIAL WORKS DECIDED

 

An initial programme of works was adopted for reference to the consideration of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr A Blakeley) at a meeting of the Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund Committee held at the Administrative Offices, Acton, last night, when machinery for the collection and expenditure of funds was completed.

 

The first periodical collection is to estimate the yield about 80 pounds.  The addition of the promised Government subsidy of 80pounds will thus enable employment assuming the territorial labourer’s wage is to predominate, is the disbursement of funds for about 15 men for the first fortnight.

 

The work will obviously need to be rationed and the committee is requiring that the allotment be to married men so far as the first fortnight is concerned.

 

It is pointed out in a statement by the committee however, ‘that the claims of single unemployed will not be overlooked and that as soon as possible the rationing will cover them also, subject of course, to the limitations of the fund.’

 

An important resolution of the committee excludes the application of the fund to unemployed persons who are not now domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory. 

 

The programme of initial works to be submitted includes works which appeal to the committee as distinctly community services and activities which will enable the use of the funds for the payment of wages.

 

The committee is proceeding on the assumption that the Departments of Works and Home Affairs will provide estimates and designs where necessary and will handle the engagement and payment of labour, it having been indicated by the Minister that these facilities will be available gratis to the fund.

 

The statement adds: ‘Subject to favourable consideration by the Minister of a suggestion by the committee that the Government might contribute material for relief works irrespective of tis subsidy to the fund it would appear that 15 men can be employed for sometime.’

 

The following ladies have volunteered to act as collectors to the fund in connection with private enterprise Kingston, Misses Rita and Elsie Crapp; Manuka, Miss L Gell; City, Miss Rita Prowse; Braddon, Miss Bessie Shakespeare.

 

An account named the ‘Canberra Unemployment Relief Fund,’ has been opened with the Commonwealth Bank, Canberra.

Help Unemployment Relief - Dance

The Canberra Times, 18 October 1931. 

The photograph below was taken in the Westlake Hall circa 1938.  The boys were in a gym class.  This hall was the new hall that replaced the old Mess Building  left behind in 1925 by the men No 3 Sewer Camp.

The Canberra Times, Saturday 18 October 1931

HELP UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

ATTEND THE FIRST DANCE IN THE NEW WESTLAKE HALL

The advertisement accompanying this heading notes that the dance would be held that evening with Roxy Orchestra – Old and New Dances, Novelties, Refreshments.  The entrance costs – Gents 3/- and Ladies 2/-.  Flashlight photographs to be taken at 10pm. Vic Samuels Hon Sec.

TOP

Local Unemployment Policy

The Canberra Times, Wednesday November 28, 1934 page 2

LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT POLICY

Speaking at the Canberra Chamber of Commerce dinner last night, the Minister for t he Interior, Mr Paterson, referred to unemployment as one of the features of world troubles to-day, and to the possible means by which the problems might be faced.  He said the obvious means by which unemployment might be eliminated were an adjustment of hours to counteract the mechanisation of industry, t he promotion of new avenues of employment, or a combination of both measures.  Mr Paterson explained that this was his personal view and not necessarily that of the Government, and referred also to the dangers of precipitate and unbalanced action in connection with the adjustment of hours.

 

While there will be widespread agreement with Mr Paterson regarding the ultimate cure of unemployment, the issues are by no means so simple.  The unemployment difficulties are being intensified and complicated every day that the armies of workless continue.  We are faced with the increase of unemployment among the youth of the country, who are not being trained for work even if it is offered, and are in danger of degenerating into unemployable as well as unemployed.  There is no general rule that can be laid down for immediate attack on unemployment as the Federal Capital Territory, where the extent of unemployment is known and the rate of increase ascertainable, while t he known amount of work available is a matter that the Government can determine.  There is a clear call for t he immediate attention not only of the Minister for the Interior, but the Commonwealth Government as a whole, to the unemployment position in Canberra.

 

The Canberra position to-day has to be faced in the light of hard facts.  The time has passed when hope or delay can be allowed to rule.  The position is that there is a supply of unskilled labour far in excess of the immediate or probable needs of the Territory.  There is, side by side with this, an actual shortage of skilled labour for a development programme in keeping with that which should be put into operation here for the next five years.  Every year about 100 local youths are added to the labour supply and no effort is being made by the Government to cope with this phase of unemployment or to ameliorate the condition or outlook the condition or outlook or unemployed youth.  For three years now, a report on vocational training made by a committee appointed by the then Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) has been lying in the departmental offies awaiting attention.  The contents of the report are being kept a secret, so that private enterprise in powerless to act upon any suggestions until the Government makes a more.

 

Local unemployment policy must make provision for the employment of trained youth in local jobs and the readjustment of the unskilled labour supply to something like the actual requirements.  It is within the power of the Commonwealth to tackle the latter aspect of the problem in connection with the policy of employment grants to the States.  If the Commonwealth is making employment grants to the States, it surely has the right of making the stipulation that the States shall take some of the surplus unskilled workers of Canberra.  It has to be recalled that in normal times, a slackening in the Canberra requirements of unskilled labour would have resulted in the men going to jobs in the States.  This happened in 1926, 1927 and 1928.  When unemployment became more serious in 1929 the Canberra  unemployed skilled worker found that he was disbarred from work in the States and was better off becoming a claim on the Commonwealth Government.  Thus instead of the normal amount of unskilled work in Canberra providing something like a living for a labour supply adjusted to requirements, the over supply of labour has resulted in a mere existence for unskilled workmen.   If, therefore, a section of the single unskilled workers could be assured of work in the States, they would be better off, and those who remained, comprising largely married unskilled workers, would be able to enjoy better conditions that for the last five years. Meanwhile the youth of Canberra will have to be trained to definite trades instead of being forced into unskilled relief work, which can offer them no future.  With an adequate system of vocational training Canberra youth will be able to fill the demand for skilled tradesmen in the Territory, and the surplus will be equipped to take skilled employment elsewhere as opportunity offers.

 

The policy outline has not taken into account an expansion of avenues  or volume of employment.  This, too, can be realised by the adoption by the Government of a definite plan of city development.  With settled policy, confidence will be given to private enterprise.  With the growth of the city, new avenues of employment will become economically possible.  This will tend, in turn to assure permanent employment for an increasing number of youth of the territory.  But until the Government abandons the haphazard style of throwing a sop occasionally to Canberra instead of having a definite programme, private enterprise will not risk a second unhappy experience of  government undertakings and intentions in regard to Canberra.

Full Time Work Advocated

The Canberra Times, Thursday 5 September 1935

This article was a report on a speech by Mr BG Kelly at Molonglo for election to the Advisory Council.

FULL TIME WORK

Advocated for Relief Workers

MR BG KELLY SPEAKS AT MOLONGLO

Mr BG Kelly, the Labour candidate for the Advisory Council, visited Molonglo last evening and had a successful meeting, speaking to about one hundred electors.

 

Mr Muir occupied the chair.  He told the meeting of Mr Kelly’s long association with the industrial movement in Canberra, and said Mr Kelly had been secretary and president of the Transport Union, delegate from that union to the Trades and Labour Council, was at times secretary and president of that body and is at present President of the ALP. Mr Kelly had been one of the foundation members of the three bodies mentioned and if elected would be a worthy representative of Labour.

Unemployed Demonstration 

The Canberra Times, 26 September 1935 page 1

UNEMPLOYED DEMONSTRATION

MR PATERSON PROMISES MORE WORK THIS YEAR

FULL TIME AT CHRISTMAS AND IN JUNE

 

At least 1,200 Canberra workers and their wives and families, many of whom had walked three to five miles to be present, participated in a demonstration at Parliament House last night to seek full-time employment for workers of the Federal Capital Territory.

 

Stressing the magnitude of the task involved in providing full time employment for all Canberra workers, the Minister for the Interior (Mr T Paterson) assured a representative deputation that during the next twelve months, the minimum of relief work would be one week in two for married men and one in four for single men with full time for a month before Christmas and during the month of June.

 

Mr Paterson pointed out that even with the proposed expenditure of nearly half a million pounds on Canberra, it would be impossible to give every man full time work.  This was due in some respects to the fact that the expenditure would be mainly taken up with constructional activities requiring skilled tradesmen.  However he could promise that one week in two for married men and one week in four for single men would be the absolute bedrock.  It was hoped that the actual figures would be nearer to two in three and one in three respectively.

 

Mr Paterson also indicated that the Government was considering a scheme for the division of the married men into groups according to the number of their dependents, with a view to providing more employment for the man with the large family.

 

The Prime Minister (Mr Lyons) assured the deputation that the Government was doing all in its power to alleviate hardships caused by unemployment.  He stressed the fact that the problem was a national one and the solution would have to be national in its application.  It was impossible for the Government to give to the unemployed of Canberra what is could not give to the equally impoverished relief worker in other parts of the Commonwealth.

 

The deputation to the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Interior, included Labour members, representatives of the unemployed, the Trades and Labour Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Churches.

 

The deputation was introduced by the Deputy leader of the Opposition, Mr Forde.

 

Outlining the case for relief workers Mr E Hughes, President of the Canberra Branch of the AWU urged that the Government should take a humanitarian view of the unemployed position rather than look at it from the point of view of balanced budgets.  The men were able to work and had a right to expect full time employment so that they could provide the necessities of life for their wives and families.  In his capacity of investigation officer for the Relief Committee he had come into close contact with appalling cases of want, destitution and malnutrition in Canberra.

 

Dr DC Henry expressed the opinion that the unemployment problem was only capable of solution by national action, and to this end the Government should make every effort to build up the gold mining, oil, paper-making and fishing industries.  The proper development of the Federal Territory was of paramount importance to Australia.

 

Mr W Hurley, representing the relief workers, deplored the fact that the lack of employment had reduced the men to such an extent that they were forced to depend on charity for their clothing.  Seventy-five percent of the relief workers wore cast off military clothing.

 

Mr TM Shakespeare supported the plan for full time work, stressing the need for concerted and balanced programmes of development for Canberra. If the relief workers were to be put on a sound footing, he said, it was necessary that the burdensome arrears of rent which had accumulated over their long period of enforced idleness should be wiped off.  The business men had set an example in this direction which should be followed by the Government.

 

Dr LW Nott stated that his duties as a medical practitioner gave him a startling insight into the conditions which existed in poverty stricken areas of Canberra.  If the Minister and officers of his department would accompany him on his round he could show them pitiful cases of destitution and malnutrition.  Sir Colin Mackenzie, he added, had under observation four cases of rickets, and two of the patients were so badly deformed by this malady that they could never be anything but a charge on the community.

 

Dr Nott also urged that the Government should wipe out the arrears of rent, and cease continually to humiliate the unfortunate relief workers with claims for payment and deductions for the scanty remunerations paid for their intermittent work.  It had come under his notice he said, that for a few paltry shillings the Department had cut off the electricity supply of a tenant for the whole of the winter.

 

The Rev CJS Faulkner, Mr R James, MHR Dr Maloney, MHR also spoke on behalf of the deputation.

 

Emphasising the Government’s concern for the unemployment position throughout the whole of the Commonwealth  the Prime Minister (Mr Lyons) said that the position had improved despite insinuations to the contrary.  If the Government had some magic wand which it could wave it would get rid of the misery and suffering which was being experienced not only in Canberra but throughout the rest of Australia.  If the special cases of destitution referred to were brought under the notice of the Government he would guarantee that special provision would be made for them.  The position in Canberra could only be met by large constructional activities and this was what the Government had in mind.  The financial position of the Commonwealth had improved and further provision would be made for the development of the capital with a further improvement in economic conditions.

 

Asked if the Government would consider wiping off arrears of rental, Mr Lyons said that was a matter which must receive the fullest consideration.  It was impracticable for the Government to make sweeping gesture cancelling all debts.  If this was done other people would be encouraged to repudiate their obligations to the Government.  Cases would have to be considered with full regard to the individual circumstance.

 

‘Although because of special circumstances this is the national capital,’ said Mr Lyons, ‘we cannot possibly produce ideal conditions here unless we are able to produce something approaching ideal conditions in other parts of this Commonwealth.’

 

The proposed programme of construction work in Canberra during the current year was outline by Mr Paterson who pointed out that although the expenditure of nearly half a million pounds was proposed, even this vast sum would be insufficient to provide full time work for all Canberra workmen.  The sum of 100,000 pounds was provided for architectural services exclusive of the 70,000 pounds to be spent in connection with housing Duntroon residents.

 

Mr Paterson promised definitely that the relief work rate during the coming twelve months would not fall below one week in two for married men and one in four for single men.  Full time work would be provided in the month of June and a month prior to Christmas.  This was the absolute bedrock rate, and it was probable that the workers would receive considerably more.

 

Referring the proposal to provide more work for men with large families, Mr Paterson said that of the approximately 200 unemployed 94 had no children, 75 had one child, 63 had between two and four children and 10 had more than four children.

 

Mr Paterson said that it was hoped to ease the position of unskilled workers in the Federal Territory by the introduction of the Apprenticeship ordinance and a vocational training scheme which would divert youths into skilled trade channels.

Employment Policy Outlined

The Canberra Times, Tuesday, 17 September 1935, page 2

Mr Shakespeare was a member of the Advisory Council and his speech was one for re-election to the Council.

EMPLOYMENT

POLICY OUTLINED BY TM SHAKESPEARE

Writing off Debts of Unemployed

Declaring that the Government had created the unemployment and suffering in Canberra by deliberate policy, Mr TM Shakespeare, declared in a speech at the Causeway last night that the Government must now write off the indebtedness of the unemployed for which it is solely responsible.

 

The meeting was held in the Causeway hall and Mr D Murray occupied the chair.

 

The particular subject on which Mr Shakespeare concentrated was his unemployment policy.

 

In the Depression, said Mr Shakespeare, the hardest hit were the unemployed and with these, the men on the land.  In this Territory, relief of unemployment and of the men on the land are closely connected.  Originally, the rural leases of this Territory were thrown open to soldier settlers. How many of these are left now?  Many have been forced to give up an unequal struggle of living on what was not a living area.  In too many cases, men on the land in the Federal Capital Territory have found it more profitable to sell out than to stay here.  If this goes on, there will eventually be no small man.  That means that the rural population will dwindle.  But if every area was a living area, a prosperous band of rural settlers would promote employment both in the rural areas and in Canberra itself.  We want more men on the land and there is more land that could be made available for settlement.  To the south of the Territory 50,000 to 100,000 acres of good grazing land is to be had by clearing.  This is admitted by land experts.  The work of clearing this land would be highly reproductive.  The Government would immediately get rents.  Additional areas would immediately be available for lessees who could show that they had not a living area.

 

This work will provide full employment for every unemployed person in Canberra for years without any other work going on.  It will solve the unemployment problem and solve the rural lessees’ problem.

 

‘You may ask why this has not been done, ‘ he continued.  ‘The answer is that it has been put forward and is well thought of in the department but the proposal has been defeated by the Advisory Council.  I now ask you to back this proposal with your votes and send me to the Council and two others with me who will not vote against proposals for the good of Canberra and to provide work for its citizens.’

 

Mr Shakespeare reminded the meeting that he had moved on three occasions in the Council for a commencement of the Lakes scheme.  Future development of Canberra rests materially on its development.  The railway bridge as well as the new bridge across Commonwealth Avenue could not be proceeded with until the head works at Googong had been constructed in order to provide for flood control.  It was necessary to have a head controlling dam before the Eastlake and central lake could be proceeded with.  The great western lake commencing from Yarralumla, was, however not in the same category.  As soon as the water has passed the Commonwealth Bridge all danger is passed.  He wanted to see a start made with the preliminary work of the Lakes scheme.

 

He emphasised the necessity for extending the Federal Highway from Canberra through Tharwa to the Monaro Highway.  This would give access to the southern portion of the Territory, as well as to one million acres of snow country which can be reached by that route.

 

Mr Shakespeare said that the building programme at Canberra and the transfer of Departments was only a portion of what should be done.  He wanted to see every Commonwealth activity brought to Canberra.

 

Not only was employment essential, but there must be set up a debt of adjustment board composed of one representative from the Government, one from the workers and one from the commercial community to revise all rents due to the Government by the unemployed.  The unemployed were in difficulty only because their landlord, the Government, had refused them work.  The Government must now make that deficiency good.  Each case should be privately inquired into, and the fair thing done.  The debts to the Government in form of rent account must be inquired into.  Most of the people at Molonglo, Causeway, Eastlake [Kingston] and wooden cottage holders at Acton have paid off the rent the whole of the principal [cost of building] and interest represented in the construction of their homes.

 

But having secured full work and an adjustment of debts there still remained the necessity for seeing that the children were given technical training that would enable them to face life and employment in any part of Australia.  The New South Wales government had appointed and educational committee to solve this problem.  Canberra should have a representative on that committee and the Federal Government should appoint a similar committee here as also an expert educationalist to advise it on what should be done to bring about fuller technical education here.  Representatives of all private schools should be members of that committee.

 

Finally the Government should at once enlarge the scope of the Industrial Board to permit of awards being made to cover all employees in the Territory as well as make provision for apprenticeship training.

 

In conclusion, Mr Shakespeare said that his employment programme covered:-

1.       Continual works programme.

2.       Provision for work for all at award rates.

3.       Appointment of a board to write down all debts due to the Government though Government related unemployment.

4.       Erection of workmen’s cottages at a rental of not more that 10/- per week.

5.       Revision of Worker’s Compensation Ordinance.

6.       Industrial tribunal for all classes of labour.

7.       Apprenticeship and vocational training; and

8.       Educational board to Institute technical training under expert educationalists.

 

 

1930-1931 White City Camp & No 4

The Canberra Times 15 August 1930

READERS’ VIEWS

DISTRIBUTION OF WORK

The Editor, ‘The Canberra Times’

Sir, the paragraph in this morning’s paper under the heading, ‘No Dole in Canberra.’ And dealing with employment, is at variance with the actual facts, and may be the means of bringing more unfortunates to this already overcrowded labour centre. You state that married men received two weeks employment out of three, and that single men work six days a month.

There would be great satisfaction if such was a fact. However, if you will allow men (on behalf of the unemployed resident in camps) to give you a resume of the actual work allotted to single men it may clear up a misunderstanding as regards the position.  It is now more than three months since the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) was approached by a deputation representing Canberra unemployed regarding work and was received sympathetically. Work was promised on the Duntroon Road preference to be given as follows: 1st married men resident in Canberra; 2nd Queanbeyan married men and then Canberra single men.

About forty single men (mostly returned soldiers) had a week’s work on and a week off with the exception of soldiers who had work week about.  The un-employed of No 4 camp also had 25(?) days on the road and then became ineligible for rations.  The same thing happened to other single men who received work.

As regards the Unemployment Relief Scheme (pound for pound) the single Canberra men have had three days work in about every five weeks. Some of the lucky ones have struck 2 days in four weeks, a few have only had three days since the scheme started,

The majority of men has had (so far) six days of work. Those who struck the road job, 8 days and 7 ½ days the other half day being lost through the weather.

The position at present is that some of the men receive a docket to go to work for three days and when they arrive on the bob, the man in charge can’t place them, the work not being ready.

JH O’Brien

Late 1751 20th batt AIF

White City Camp

August 14. 1930

 

The Canberra Times 27 May 1931

RATIONS

Deceased Number

ISSUED AT CANBERRA

A decrease in the number of rations issued to the unemployed has occurred in the last few weeks at Canberra. This is due in the case of a resident unemployed to them receiving (?) more work. Those early ...a certain amount of money are ... entitled to the dole. Rations are issued to the local men on a graduated scale according to the size of their families.

The proposal for a 25 per cent increase in rations in New South Wales has not yet come into force. It has been the policy of the Administration ... (?) give rations on a slightly more general (?) scale than in New South Wales, but no announcement has been made regarding whether the supplies (?) will be increased if the New South Wales proposal is put into operation.

The transfer of local single unemployed men from the White City Camp has commenced and a number of them have already taken up their quarters at Capitol Hill Barracks.  It...(?) Intended to remove all the local single men who are on the unemployed relief register, but not the travelling unemployed who are at No 4 Camp (Parkes Barracks).

 

The Canberra Times 3 June 1931

UNEMPLOYED

Fewer Rations in Canberra

A further decrease in the number of men drawing rations in Canberra is receded during the past week, both in regard to residents and itinerant unemployed. Although the figures are no available for Canberra residents, which explains he diminishing number drawing rations no official explanation is forthcoming why there should be fewer travellers coming here.

The cubicles from White City camp are being transferred to the Victoria Government to be used by the Railway Department, the men going to Capitol Hill. The other buildings at White City Camp are being used departmentally, the mess hut to form a parlour at Manuka Oval.

Mr W Mitchell, the lessee of the White City is to be in charge of the mess at the Causeway.

 

1931 Rations

The Canberra Times  27 May 1931

RATIONS

DECEASED NUMBER

ISSUED AT CANBERRA

A decrease in the number of rations issued to the unemployed has marred(?)in the land(?) few weeks at Canberra. This is due in case of ...resident unemployed to them returning(?) more work.  Those earning .. a certain amount of money are .. entitled to the dole.  Rations are ...to the local men on a graduated scale according to the size of their families.

 

The proposal for a 25 percent increase in rations in New South Wales has not yet come into force.  It has ...the policy of the Administration to give rations on a slightly more general scale than in New South Wales, but no announcement has been made regarding whether the ration will be increased if the New South Wales proposal is put into operation.

The transfer of local single unemployed men from the White City Camp has commenced and a number of them have already taken up their quartes at Capitol Hill barracks. It is intended to remove all the local single men who are on the unemployment relief register, but not the travelling unemployed who are at No 4 Camp (Parkes barracks).

 

 

1932 Christmas Unemployed March

The Canberra Times Tuesday 29 November 1932

MARCH ON PARLIAMENT

CANBERRA UNEMPLOYED DECIDE

Disappointed At Work Provided

DELEGARION TO SEEK OUT MINISTER

Disappointed at t he work provided for provided for Christmas and to ask for more adequate attention to the needs of the unemployment situation in Canberra, the Canberra unemployed will take part in a march on Parliament House to-morrow morning.

The decision was reached at a meeting of unemployed held on Sunday which expressed dissatisfaction at the work to be provided.

An earlier meeting had decided on a march, but following the announcement that a Christmas relief programme was to be provided, the project was dropped.

The fact that men who had started last week in expectation of continuous work to Christmas had been put off again has led to renewed dissatisfaction, which is being aggravated by the realisation that if a belated start is now made on continuous work, married men will have little left now for Christmas when the Government has made its deductions for various purposed from the pay envelopes.

‘Voteless, workless and bootless,’ was the burden of complaints made at a large meeting of the Canberra unemployed at the Big Gun [Big Bertha gun from the war] on Sunday morning, when Mr J O’Keefe presided.

The meeting dealt with the promise or more work made by the Minister of the Interior (Mr Perkins), but it was stated that men who started last week were again put off.

Mr O’Shea, AWU organiser, addressed the meeting at considerable length, and the chairman and Mr O’Neill replied to Mr O’Shea.

The meeting resolved: That the whole of the men unemployed in Canberra march to Parliament House on Wednesday morning and appoint a delegation from their number to interview the Minister for the Interior.’

Plans were made for the march of unemployed from different points. The Oaks Estate men will leave at 9.30 am and proceed to Molonglo, picking up Molonglo men and in turn will pick up the Causeway men at the Big Gun.  [The Big Gun was initially set up at Molonglo siding and later moved to the Canberra Railway Station at Kingston – it must have been at this latter site in 1932.]

Capitol Hill men will take the route along the road to the Post Office [East Block].

Westridge unemployed will muster with the Westlake men on State Circle, while the Ainslie and Acton men will meet at Civic Centre at 9.30am. Duntroon men will link up with Russell Hill men and march via Scott’s Crossing bridge.

The whole of the marchers will converge at the parking area opposite the Post Office at 10.45am when a delegation will be appointed from its numbers to interview the Minister.

The matter of registration of the proposed Canberra Relief Workers’ Union was left in abeyance awaiting further legal advice.

A letter from Mr WHB Dickson, solicitor, in connection with the validity of the deductions was received and the meeting decided to act on the advice tendered.

 

Christmas Work - December 1933

CANBERRA TIMES 4 November 1933

UNEMPLOYED

FULL PROGRAMME OF WORK

PLANS FOR EARLY START

Work for the unemployed in Canberra will we found for them at an early date and will be continuous over the Christmas period.

 

With the expiration of the Christmas relief work, a number of men will be given employment in January on preparatory work in connection with the erection of the National War Memorial.

 

It is also expected that work will be commenced in the construction of the National Library early in the New Year. [This library was in Kings Avenue not far from the Patents Office – not to be confused with the present National Library.]

 

Mr Blakeley (Fed Lab) has made several requests to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Perkins) for the provision of work for the unemployed of Canberra, and yesterday he again asked the Minister in the House of Representatives what had been done in connection with affording relief to the Canberra unemployed from now or until after the Christmas period.

 

Mr Perkins stated that special relief money had been made available for the absorption of the local unemployed men over t he Christmas period.  As to when the work would commence he could not say, but stated that the work would be continuous over Christmas as the amount on the estimate should be sufficient for that purpose.  In regards to how long the work would last, Mr Perkins replied  that the men would be kept in work as long as possible.

 

WAR MEMORIAL

Mr Perkins stated that the work on the National War Memorial would commence in January.  The preparatory work for the construction of the building would absorb a number of  unskilled men as there would be a considerable amount of excavating, levelling, terracing, the making of plantations for trees and shrubs, the laying on of water, electric light and sewerage.

 

NATIONAL LIBRARY

The National Library will also be commenced early in the New Year.

 

The sub-committee of the Cabinet which was deputed to select the site has decided on the one near Parliament House  {Provisional}.  This site is one of several, but there is some little doubt as to whether it will be available under the Burley Griffin plan.  The plans for the building are well forward and before the end of the present financial year the building, it is expected will be well on the way.

 

[The grand entrance to the building the facade of which was in a grey stone and two storey in height was never completed.  I used the building on many afternoons after school in the late 1940s and early 1950s and the great joy was being allowed to go into the stacks and select the book/s I wanted to read.]

TOP

Unemployment Relief Committee 1930-1933

The Canberra Times 13 June 1930

EMPLOYMENT FUND

COMMITTEE MEETS

PROCEDURE UNDER DISCUSSION

With a view to initiating a relief programme for the unemployed the first meeting of the Canberra Unemployment Relief Committee was held at the Administrative Offices Acton, yesterday afternoon.

The meeting elected Mr O(?)T Evans chairman of the committee and adjourned until to-day after discussing the provision of machinery for procedure and preliminaries incidental to the execution of relief works.

It is hoped that all preliminaries may be completed this afternoon and that the relief programme in connection with the Government contribution and supervisory resources will be put into operation at the earliest moment.

 

The Canberra Times 20 June 1930

RELIEF WORK

TO START NEXT WEEK

Mt Ainslie Path

PREFERENCE FOR MARRIED MEN

Having ascertained that employment for married men in the Federal Territory is fairly satisfactory, the Canberra Unemployment Relief Committee yesterday decided that employment will be given in relief works on a basis of 60 per cent to married men and 40 per cent to single men in point of the numbers to be engaged, while in the matter of time, married men will work five days and single men, three days.

Further it was resolved that in the case of single men, employment will only be made available to those who have been on the register for six months or those who have been bonafide residents during the whole of the last six months.

Among the works proposed by the committee is the construction of a track for pedestrian traffic to the summit of Mt Ainslie. The view which is the best obtainable of the city can at present be reached only be a steep and rocky climb.

The contour survey disclose that the best grade compatible with the commencing point being most convenient to the public and which commands the best vantage points for look-outs can be obtained from a point near Hotel Ainslie. The Commonwealth Surveyor-General (Mr Percival) has mapped out the route of the track for the committee.

The committee has recommended to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) that instructions be issued for proceeding with this work, and it is hoped that a start will be made next week.

It is expected that the following projects will also be put into operation at an early date:-

·         The placing of grounds and gardens of the Mothercraft Clinic in order;

·         The construction of necessary paths on all sports grounds;

·         Tree planting at Reid Sports ground;

·         Repairing road to Red Hill Reservoir.

·         And clearing a track along the summit.

The Government will supply materials for carrying out works, as well as provide tools and transport for workmen in connection with the proposed unemployment relief works programme and in addition the administrative machinery for technical staff and the payment of wages.

 

The Canberra Times 15 December 1930

RELIEF FUND

MEETING TO DISCUSS FUTURE

3d IN THE POUND PROPOSED

A meeting of subscribers has been called by the Unemployment Relief Committee for the Albert Hall to-night to discuss the future of the relief fund.

One proposal is that the present voluntary levy of 1d in the pound unemployment relief payment should be increase to 3d in the pound.

It is also likely that speakers will contend that the unemployed at the responsibility of the Government.

 

The Canberra Times 26 February 1931

RELIEF SOCIETY

Successful Year

OFFICERS RE-ELECTED

Only a small attendance was present at the annual meeting of the Canberra Relief Society last night, at which the president (Mr WH Sharwood) occupied the chair.

Mr Sharwood reviewed the origin and activities of the society. He said that the constitution of the society  was approved by the Commonwealth Government which undertook to subsidise the receipts of the society on a pound for pound basis.  The ladies auxiliary committee made a house to house canvas which resulted in the collection of 35 pounds and Dr Nott organised a dramatic entertainment which resulted in about 160 (blurred) pounds being  handed to the society. These amounts and all other subscriptions and donations received from time to time were subsidised by the Government on the basis mentioned and in addition the society secured two special grants to the amount of 150 pounds for the relief of the travelling unemployed. The society also acted as trustees for the Government in connection with a subsidy of 100(?) pounds granted to the Australian Youth’s Settlement League.

In the work of relief a works system has be adapted whereby any able bodied man or youth requesting assistance is required to do some work of a public utility to the value of the assistance rendered.  By this system a considerable amount of work has been done on the various church grounds such as tree planting, which would otherwise be probably not have been done owing to lack of funds and at the present time, as required and available, men are sent to the various church grounds to do maintenance work.

‘This system,’ he said, ‘serves a double purpose – firstly, it enables a man to retain his self respect in that he gives value for what he receives: and secondly, it brings the society in touch with those who would not otherwise approach it, and yet are in desperate need of assistance, and furthermore, it is appreciated by the workers of the territory.

At Christmas all the churches and societies interested in the social welfare of the people, sent representatives to a meeting convened by this society, and decided to pool all their Christmas cheer funds, with the society and a strong representative committee was formed for the allotments and distribution of the funds which were subsidised by the Government on the pound for pound basis with the result that a sun of 390 pounds was distributed amongst those people who were deemed to be in need of assistance.’

Mr Sharwood thanked all contributors to this fund and those who had assisted in its distribution. He referred to the continuous and valuable work being done by the ladies auxiliary committee in the collection of funds, distribution of clothing amongst women and children, and visiting the various homes where assistance is required.  He specially mentioned the good work which Mrs Henderson, the first chairwoman, carried on during the early strenuous days of the society’s existence, and expressed regret of her departure from the Territory.

‘It will be noticed,’ he said, ‘That the yearly balance sheet suggests that the society is well in funds, but, unfortunately that is not so, as the balance merely represents the position on the 31st December 1930 and  the payments which have been made since then have placed the funds in such a condition that strenuous efforts must at once be made to raise sufficient funds to enable relief work  to be continued in a satisfactory manner.  The total sum received and distributed by the society since the first general meeting up to the date of this meeting, is approximately 1,100 pounds while the present balance in hand is under 50 pounds.

The society cannot function without funds and as the demands on it at the present time are very great I appeal to all who can possibly afford to give anything – no matter how little – to help in the relief of distress, for there are, unfortunately many families in the Territory who are unable to find sufficient work to properly clothe either themselves or their children, except by work given to them by the Society.’

Mr Sharwood completed the report with a special reference to the admirable work done by the secretary (Col JTH Goodwin) who had untiringly and enthusiastically devoted the greater part of his time to the work of the society, and whose services in that respect deserved the heartiest recognition and commendation of the society and of the public of Canberra.

The meeting decided to re-elect  the present officers as follows:-

·         Patron: Mr Blakeley MP

·         Vice-patrons: Messrs CS Daley and ER Snow

·         President: Mr WH Sharwood

·         Vice-president: Mr TM Shakespeare

·         Secretary and Treasurer: Lt Col JTH Goodwin

·         Committee: Mrs W Henderson, Mrs WG Woodger, Mr S Noble, Mr Gardner, Mr W Dunphy, Mr V Samuels

·         Auditors: Mr GT Evans and Mr J Tuck

·         Ladies Auxiliary: Mrs HJ Filshie (president), Mrs PA Gourgaud (secretary), Mesdames CA Laverty, TM Shakespeare, Wright, RA Muir, Eldridge.

 

The Canberra Times 14 April 1931

OAKS ESTATE

WATER SUPPLY SOUGHT

The question of supplying water to residents of the Oaks Estate was further debated by members of the Advisory Council yesterday when it was decided on the motion of Cr Rowe to recommend to the Minister for Home Affairs that he urge the Unemployment Relief Committee to give favourable consideration to the laying down of mains and house connections as an urgent work.

Cr Rowe was supplied by the Civic Administrator (Mr Daley) with a memorandum setting out negotiations between the Administration and the Queanbeyan Municipal Council stating that the cost of the work would be 660 pounds if galvanised iron pipes with a life of 10 years were laid down and that the cost to residents of the area would be 1/- a thousand gallons, including 1/8d to be paid to Queanbeyan and 2/4d to the Commonwealth.

Cr Rowe said that another 7 pounds or 8 pounds would be involved in the installation of house connections at each house. The estimated charge of 4/- was excessive and out of all proportion to rates charged elsewhere. He asked whether the charge of 2/4d which the Commonwealth required would include the renewing the pipes ten years hence.

Mr Daley: Maintenance also.

Continuing, Cr Rowe said that the presence nearby of petrol storage tanks necessitated the provision for fire fighting.  The provision of a hydrant supply was essential and if that were done, with a slight increase of the size of the main, the residents could be supplied. This was a burden which could then easily be born by the Commonwealth.

Seconding the motion, Cr Shakespeare said that he had received an assurance from technical officers of the Works Department that not more than 10 years of life could be contemplated for galvanised iron pipes. Longer life would exist with cast iron.

Cr Shakespeare: The estimated life could be increased to 30 years.

Cr Gourgaud: Ten years seems a very short period.

Cr Shakespeare: if the residents have to pay 1/- a thousand gallons it would pay them to go and live at Broken Hill. What is 660 pounds when it is a question of the health of a community.

At this stage Dr Cumpston moved as an amendment that it be a recommendation to the Minister that he place on the estimates for next year a sum sufficient to supply a full permanent service of the same kind and on the same terms as those applied to residents of the city area.

In the absence of a seconder the amendment lapsed. Cr Rowe said that there was no chance of a sum being placed on the estimates for the work, but there was some hope that the Relief Committee would take up the work.

After Mr Daley had stated that the cost of materials involved would be about 300 pounds, the motion was carried.

 

The Canberra Times 1 May 191

ROAD RELIEF WORK

To Employ 30 Men

IMPROVEMENTS AT CITY

With the reconstruction and laying of a bitumen surface along Allinga Street, which will be commenced shortly at a cost of approximately 4,500 pounds, 30 men will be given unemployment. 

The work, which has been arranged by the Unemployment Relief Committee will complete the reconstruction of the roads surrounding the business of the City Shops

 

The Canberra Times 15 June 1931

EMPLOYMENT FUND

REVIEW OF 12 MONTHS

NEARLY 20,000 POUNDS SPENT

A survey of work done by the Canberra Unemployment Relief Committee in the 12 months which have passed since its inception shows that there has been a total expenditure to date of 19,936 pounds, of which 3,863/8/6d was provided by voluntary contributions.

The total expenditure on wages amounted to 17,492 pounds 14/4d and materials transport etc 2,442 pounds 9/4d (or 1d).

The statement of costs is made up of as follows:-

·         Roads, footpaths and drains 5911 pounds 19/10d

·         Sporting and recreation 2,279 pounds 1(?)/8d

·         Trees and planting generally 976 pounds 16/5

·         Public Institutions 3,0735 pounds1/7d

·         Swimming Pool and river bathing 2,353 pounds 1/11d

·         Sundries 667 pounds 0/9d

The cost of works authorised by the Minister between June 27 1930 and June 11 1931 amounted to 32,340 pounds, 17/4d of which the Government has contributed 28,447 pounds 8/4d.

The number of unemployed whose needs have been considered increased from 100 married men and 90 single men in June 1930 to 150 married and 150 single early this year following the closure of the Royal Military College and at present the number is approximately 200 of each.

The work done under the auspices of the committee ranges from work of distinctly community nature to developmental works. The 120 jobs which have been put in hand in the last 12 months included improvements to sporting areas, tree planting, and construction of roads and footpaths.

Works have not been confined to the city area country works including improvement to the river approaches, the completion of the Cotter River fish hatchery6, elimination of fire risk at the Pine Island Picnic Reserve.  Among the important city works carried out have been the preparation and planting of the Institute of Anatomy grounds and the construction of the approaches to Institute road construction at City and Causeway, provision of accommodation and surface improvements to sports grounds. Two allocations of 50 pounds cash each have been made for surveys and tree planting has been carried out extensively.

 

The Canberra Times 1 September 1931

RELIEF SOCIETY

HEAVY CALLS FOR DISTRESS

FUNDS RUNNING LOW

The committee of the Canberra Relief Society met last evening at the committee’s room at Acton.

The hon secretary (Lt Col JTH Goodwin) reported that through the efforts of the society arrangements had been made for two tubercular children to be accommodated and treated at the sanatorium at Cudgelo. The Minister for Home Affairs had approved that the cost of the care of the children be borne by his department.

The president (Mr WH Sharwood) stated that the arrangements had been made for the purchase of the material for making underclothing and for leather for repairing boots for necessitous travellers.

A report being obtained regarding the footwear of the children attending the schools in Canberra.

A great many cases of necessity have been relieved and through the prevalent unemployment the calls upon the society have been very heavy.

The funds of the society are almost exhausted and an endeavour is being made to arrange for entertainments to be held in aid of the funds.

 

The Canberra Times 14 November 1931

MR ROWE’S POLICY

Meeting at Westridge and Oaks

Mr Rowe addressed a largely attended meeting last night and was accorded a unanimous vote of confidence.  Later he addressed electors at the Westlake Hall.

Speaking at Oaks Estate on Tuesday night Mr Rowe outlined the representation made by him to the Advisory Council and the Minister concerning a water supply to the district. The matter had been placed before the Council on numerous occasions and although strongly supported by the Director-General of Health and other members of the Council, until recently very little progress had resulted. As the result of the recent recommendation of the council the proposal to incorporate fire protection service with the house connection thereby relieving the cost to the residents, was before the unemployment Relief committee. He was assured that the committee would favourably consider any reasonable proposal for the work to be carried out.

 

The Canberra Times 8 December 1931

UNEMPLOYMENT

Relief Committee May Disband

GOVERNMENT FUNDS SUFFICE

The Canberra Unemployment Relief Committee will probably cease operations in the near future owing to the fact that the whole of Canberra’s unemployment have been absorbed in relief work and should be so until at least next June.

Contributions to the committee’s funds have suffered considerable diminution from various causes lately, but there is believed to be sufficient on hand with works in the Federal Territory for which funds have been voted to maintain existing ration employment until the end of the financial year.

The committee recently has been obtaining funds from a limited section of the public as a result of the 20 per-cent wage cut, and the appropriation of 15,000 pounds for relief works in the territory by the Parliament resulted in further reduced payments.

Work has been rationed among the unemployed to such an extent that no labour is available for the construction of a permanent concrete stormwater drain at City at the cost of 2,000 pounds.  Parliament has voted this money but the Administration is unable to proceed with the project until the completion of the existing relief work releases men. Meanwhile the work will be held in abeyance, but the channel will be constructed before the wet season. The existing earth channel is incapable of accommodating the flow of water during storms.

 

The Canberra Times 29 November 1932

IN DISTRESS

FAMILIES IN SORE NEED

Through Bereavements

UNEMPLOYED INAUGURATE APPEAL

An appeal for the relief of acute distress occasioned to two families through bereavement was decided upon by a meeting of the Canberra unemployed on Sunday.

Owing to the serious distress of the respective families of the late Mrs Kindlesides and the late Mr F Miles the meeting decided to send a list to all gangs in work asking them to contribute the amount  the defray the funeral expenses amounting to 24pounds.

As a result of the death of his wife, Mr Kindlesides is left with a number of young children, some of tender years, and has been on relief work for a long period.

Mrs Miles has been dependent on her son, Mr F Miles, who unfortunately has been cut off in his youth.

The official list will be sent to all gangs. The personnel of the appeal committee is Messrs Harrington, Doust, Daniels, O’Reilly, Golding, Heffernan and O’Keefe. Mr A Kelly of Molonglo is honorary secretary.

All amounts received will be acknowledged in ‘The Canberra Times.’

 

The Canberra Times 4 November 1933

UNEMPLOYED

FULL PROGRAMME OF WORK

PLANS FOR EARLY START

Work for the unemployed in Canberra will be found for them at an early date and will be continuous over t he Christmas period.

With the expiration of the Christmas relief work, a number of men will be given employment in January on preparatory work in connection with the erection of the National War Memorial.

It is also expected that work will be commenced in the construction of the new National Library early in the New Year.

Mr Blakeley (Fed Lab) has made several requests to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Perkins) for the provision of work for the unemployed of Canberra, and yesterday he again asked the Minister in the House of Representatives what had been done in connection with affording relief to the Canberra unemployed from now on until after the Christmas period.

Later Mr Perkins stated that special relief money had been made available for the absorption of the local unemp0loyed men over the Christmas period. As to when the work would commence he could not say, but stated that the work would be commenced as early as possible and be continuous over Christmas as the amount on the estimates should be sufficient for that purpose.  In regards to how long the work would last, Mr Perkins replied that the men would be kept in work as long as possible.

WAR MEMORIAL

Mr Perkins stated that the work on the National War Memorial would commence in January. The preparatory work for the construction of the building would absorb a number of unskilled men as there would be a considerable amount of excavating, levelling, terracing, the making of plantations for trees and shrubs and the laying on of water, electric light and sewerage.

NATIONAL LIBRARY

The National Library will also be commenced early in the New Year. The sub-committee of the Cabinet which was deputed to select the site has decided on the one near Parliament House. This site is one of several, but there is some little doubt as to whether it will be available under the Burley Griffin plan. The plans for the building are well forward and before the end of the present financial year the building it is expected will be well on the way.

 

 

1935 Lt-Col Goodwin re-election speech

The Canberra Times 18 September 1935

LT-COL GOODWIN’S POLICY

FAVOURS REFORM OF COUNCIL

TOO MUCH REPRESENTATION FOR ONE DEPARTMENT

BROAD POLICY FOR CANBERRA’S GOOD

In a broadcast address last night, Lt Col JTH Goodwin outlined his policy in the Advisory Council election campaign. At the conclusion of a general survey of requirements of the Territory, Col Goodwin said that he would support any movement which had for its ends:-

·         The provision of the maximum employment to residents of the Territory:

·         A programme of an independent committee to report on the general condition of the relief workers and their children, and the question of eliminating arrears in rent:

·         The granting of pensions to widows;

·         The early commencement of the building of the Government Offices:

·         The establishment of a technical school of high standard and the provision for scholarships;

·         The building of a high school and also a new hospital: and

·         Any movement for the advancement of Canberra and its people.

 

At the outset, Col Goodwin asked how a candidate for election to a council which has no power to either legislate or administer could for formulate a policy.

‘The Advisory Council is purely a council to advise to the Minister for the Interior who pleases himself whether he accepts or rejects it,’ he said. ‘In short, the passing of any resolution may have no other effect than to give satisfaction to the mover who was fortunate enough to pilot it through this very one-sided Council, for one-sided it certainly is, consisting as it does of three nominated members from the same department, three members elected by the people and a chairman nominated by the Minister for the Interior.

The Council in my opinion would be much stronger, more independent, and more representative if the three nominated councillors were not members of the same department, and subject to the same permanent head and Minister.

It is not at all necessary for purposes of the Council that the three nominated members should be directly connected with the administration of the Territory.

If the Council desires the presence of any departmental officers it has the privilege of requesting that he shall attend and supply the information desired.

I am not attacking any of the nominated members, but am only pointing out the weakness of the Council as at present constituted.

I do not know how the resolutions of the Council are placed before the Minister, but I do know enough of official procedure to be aware that a Minister’s decision often depends very much on how the question is placed before him. I am strongly of the opinion that the resolutions of the Council would receive more attention if they were presented to the Minister by the Chairman, who might be accompanied by any member of the Council who wished to attend.  Surely it is not too much to ask that the Minister in charge of the Territory shall devote a few hours every month to consult with his Advisory Council.

Some drastic reform in the present procedure of conveying the resolution of the Council to the Minister appears to be absolutely necessary if the Council is to be of any service to the people and it should be the recognised medium of placing before the Government the wishes of the residents of the Territory.

I regard the Advisory Council as the forerunner of the Council clothed with all the power and dignity of a truly Legislative body representative of the people, and to that end I shall always strive and trust that whoever the elected members may be they will work to that end.

During my term of office as a member of the Council I have endeavoured to further the advancement of Canberra and the interests of the people of the Territory and was always available to those who wished to consult me on any matter.

When Canberra has been developed to the fullest extent necessary for the complete transfer of the departments it will more than pay interest on all expenditure,’ declared the speaker.

‘No business corporation would attempt to develop any place in the half-baked, half-hearted manner to which we have now grown accustomed.

One day the people of Australia will wake up and demand the completion of the transfer of the departments so that Canberra may give a return for the money spent on it and truly take its place as the National Capital.

One of the first works should be the building of the Government offices on the foundations which were laid down years ago for them. This work would take three or four years to complete, and the building of the necessary residences should be coincident with the progress of the building.

TECHNICAL AND HIGH SCHOOLS

A Technical School is urgently required so that the youth of Canberra might receive training to fit themselves for the battle of life, and the erection of a High School in the immediate future seems absolutely necessary.

NEW HOSPITAL

The present Hospital building should not be allowed to remain one moment longer than can be helped as it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to administer it efficiently in an economic manner.

We are only just emerging from a great financial depression, and it is still necessary to carefully control our expenditure, but there does not appear now to be any reason why useful works could not now be proceeded with.

FOREST PLANTING

The extension of forest planting in suitable localities and the improvement of some of our country roads would give employment to a number of men and serve a useful purpose. Preparations for planting forests and road making could be continued all the year.

It is true that commercial timber cannot be grown anywhere, but even in the Territory we have thousands of acres which would yield more under forest conditions and employ more men than in any other way, and it would pay to remove the useless timber from it and replace it by a marketable sort, whereas it would not pay to clear the same land for grazing and agriculture.

THE EMPLOYMENT PROBLEM

We have in Canberra somewhere between 600 and 700 men dependent on relief work, two thirds of whom are married, gradually sinking down to the very depths of poverty and striving to rear children on an income of from a third to half of the basic wage. Occasionally, they get constant work for a few short weeks, during which time all sorts of deductions are made from their pay so that at the end of the time they are no better off than at the beginning.

ARREARS OF RENT

The Government should appoint a committee to go into the matter of the arrears of rent etc for workers’ houses, with a view of finding out how much could equitably be written off, and whether some further reductions could not be made. I understand that there is an amount of about 10,000 pounds owing in back rent by workmen and about the same amount is owing to business people. The Government makes deduction’s from men’s pay whenever they can, consequently there is nothing left for the unfortunate business man.

That there must be losses is certain as the unemployment has lasted so long that the load is greater than the men can bear, or can ever pay off in full. The businessman has to make concessions and so must the Government.  The sooner this matter is taken in hand, and the worker put into a better frame of mind with some hope of bringing up his children properly, the better for everyone.

The question of unemployed or party employed youths is also a question which should at once be attacked seriously, and something done to prevent these young fellows from becoming useless and unemployable.  They are all good lads, and only require some chance given them to make good citizens.

It is also a fact that many young children are not being properly fed, partly because of ignorance and partly because of poverty. It is the duty of the Government to counteract these evils without delay.

LEASHOLD SYSTEM

The present system of disposing of the city lands has proved unattractive to the private investor, and the cost of building is such that investors will not build houses for letting purposes.

The closer any leasehold system is to freehold the more successful it will be. Under the present system the Government retain all the potential value and right to the improvements existing on the land at the termination of the lease, and the right to re-assess the rent at certain periods during the lease.

Until the leaseholder has tenant rights to his improvements and some interest in the potential value, there will be relatively little private money invested in building residences in Canberra.

Let the Government lease the lands at lower rentals, forego the right to reappraise the rental during the term, certain of the lease and give tenants rights to the improvements, then there would be a chance of private investors paying some attention to Canberra.

THE RURAL LEASES

The development of country lands are retarded for similar reasons. Improvements are not being effected to the same extent as under freehold and never will be until it is learnt how to create lease conditions which will encourage and not retard development.

The essentials to make lease conditions really satisfactory are:

·         Security of tenure.

·         Freedom of action.

·         Reasonable rentals.

·         Tenant rights to all improvements.

·         Rights of appeal to an independent land court in regard to rates and reappraisement.

The building of a city and the settlement of its surrounding lands on a purely leasehold tenure is an experiment in which we have had very little experience. The Britisher has for ages been accustomed to a freehold tenure and Australia has been settled largely under conditions which  eventually entitled the settler to freehold. The Crown has generously only retained the right to minerals and to resume land for public purposes subject to compensation on the value of the land at the time of redemption.

FUTURE LAND TENURE

I am inclined to think that eventually Canberra lands will be disposed of under conditions which after certain improvements shall have been made to give the individual either a freehold or lease so close to a freehold that there will be little difference.

Land, like light and air, is the heritage of the people, and the accumulation of huge estates must be guarded against at all costs, and it is certainly easier to do this under some form of freehold, but the lease must be under such conditions that the leaseholder will reap the fruits of his labour, and know he is working for his family and not for a landlord who leaves him with nothing but a bare existence.